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3/7/2017 10:43:00 AM
Officials OK putting two pollinator habitats near Steuben County Event Center

Mike Marturello, Herald Republican Editor

ANGOLA — The Steuben County Park Department is working with the Steuben County Soil and Water Conservation District on establishing pollinator habitats near the new Steuben County Event Center.

The Steuben County Board of Commissioners on Monday approved allowing the SWCD to create two pollinator habitat plots near the new Event Center at the park on Crooked Lake.

Janel Meyer, administrative coordinator of the SWCD, and Ryan Owen, biologist with Pheasants Forever, received approval for a plan that will plant two plots, one near the event center and another along Interstate 69 on the property’s border.

It is believed much of the cost could be covered through a grant program, Meyer said.

“We think we should be able to pretty much cover it,” she said.

The SWCD can fund up to $2,000 on the project.

In Indiana, pollinator habitat is critical for the survival of many species, including monarch butterflies, quail, pheasants, Eastern meadowlarks, cottontail rabbits, native bees and the imperiled loggerhead shrike, said information from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, which has its own program that encourages pollinator habitat development.

Commissioners agreed to commit to the project and follow the recommendations of the SWCD. Commissioners wanted to provide some native landscaping at the park following a few years worth of development, including the opening of the Event Center last summer.

Many of the plants will be in the knee-high range, though some will be taller to support certain birds, said Kylee Harris of the county park staff.

Preparing the two plots will take place this year, possibly with the planting of cover crops. The plots will have to be bare when seeding takes place, either next fall or winter.

“Eventually you want to get back to bare soil,” Owen said.

It is possible that some planting could take place this spring, but Owen advised against it.

“To rush out and try to get something this spring would not be beneficial,” he said.

Some of the more common plants eyed for the plots include butterfly milkweed, purple coneflower, bergamot, bee balm and of goldenrod. The tallest plant would be one called prairie dock, which can grow 9-feet tall.

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